Friday, September 24, 2010

Propane is heavier than air. If a leak in a propane fuel system occurs, the gas will have a tendency to sink into any enclosed area and thus poses a risk of explosion and fire. The typical scenario is a leaking cylinder stored in a basement; the propane leak drifts across the floor to the pilot light on the furnace or water heater, and results in an explosion or fire. This property makes the use of propane generally unsuitable as a fuel for boats.

Propane is bought and stored in a liquid form (LPG), and thus fuel energy can be stored in a relatively small space. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), largely methane, is another gas used as fuel, but it cannot be liquefied by compression at normal temperatures, as these are well above its critical temperature. It therefore requires very high pressure to be stored as a liquid, which poses the hazard that, in an accident, just as with any compressed gas tank (such as a CO2 tank used for a soda concession) a CNG tank may burst with great force, or leak rapidly enough to become a self-propelled missile. Therefore, CNG is much less efficient to store, due to the large tank volume required. Another form of storing natural gas is as a low temperature liquid in insulated containers as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). This form of storage is at low pressure and is around 3.5 times as efficient as storing it as CNG. Unlike propane, if a spill occurs LNG will evaporate and dissipate harmlessly because it is lighter than air. Propane is much more commonly used to fuel vehicles than is natural gas because the equipment required costs less. Propane requires just 1,220 kilopascals (177 psi) of pressure to keep it liquid at 37.8 °C (100 °F)

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